Suggestions (not exactly Criticisms)*
Got a great idea for some systemic improvement for this site?
You can look at some past suggestions here, along with my responses.
Suggestions which came before i started this page are by
definition not here; some have been incorporated.
Most recent ones are added at the top,
therefore numbered in rev order

4. Listings by alive and deceased:
If this function is available, apologies. But if not, please consider adding this! There are so many teachers listed, and so many have passed, retired, or may be too old and incapacitated, have gotten out of the game, or could be discounted due to obvious scandals. A revised Guru list based on those who are alive and actively teaching in some form, would be super helpful and also just cool : )
Thanks and take care, Mic

The amount of time and energy necessary for such a listing seems prohibitive to me. Guru Ratings is in any case in its maturity and even to maintain it at its current level of information intensity takes about all i can afford for it, never mind a huge new project which would also need to be maintained.

What there is that is sort of related to all you're suggesting is:
1. The ratings and/or whatever judgmental terminology is used to describe them.
2. The text will sometimes point to "retirement" or incapacity.
3. The "Disappeared" category has a lot of the people who were once in the game, now no more.
4. Their biodata will often include whether they are no longer on this plane.

And so on. But basically, it is up to the interested reader to carry on their research and discover what they need to know on their own. I cannot provide more than a jumping-off point.

I can put your suggestion up on my Suggestions page [ie here :-)] if you'd like, with or without your name attached, or with a pseudonym, as you prefer. Perhaps someone will see it there and get inspired to do something with it. 


3.
First of all thank you for your page. I am using it to get a view of the marketplace . I go systematically, and look at almost every master that is listed on your page. What causes me difficulty is that when I click on one line on your list in the alphabetical listing, say Amber, then I will be directed to another page in this example to Nondualists and then I have to look up Amber again in order to be able to look at the teachings. It would be better if I were directed at once to the link that points to Amber. It is a bit inconvenient. I would appreciate and probably other users as well if you could enhance your site with this comfort feature. 

This would be a tremendous amount of work for little gain afaic to make such a change. In your example, the Nondualists page exists for me to put a little info. The alphabetical pages are a finding aid to that info. If i put the info in alpha pages, they would be too large and not categorized. That categorization exists also as an aid to understanding who they are – heh heh, albeit a possibly specious undertaking.

There are other "pure" lists, with just links to teachers, for instance The Gatekeeper.


2. [responses to most of this suggestion are at Charexpo, a page devoted to elucidation of various aspects of the ratings, as a prelude to possible eventual implementation. Interestingly, it is a further development to parts of the first suggestion below.]

I think all the no b.s. and above categories (i.e. 3 to 5) should be merged. Who are any of us to try to judge who has "limits"? It's vague and a tad arrogant. Separating the disasters from the corrupt and the hazy, and separating all of those from the good guys, is more than enough. The way you've got it makes it look like (as you surely are) you're a follower of Rajneesh (who I like just fine, btw). 

Also "vast enough for most, some reservations" is confusing. A lot of the site is about calling out fakes and tyrants (and it's amazingly, phenomenally useful as such). "Reservations" sounds like there's possible taint, though everything above three is "no bullshit". It's weird and confusing and off. I think everyone who's "no bullshit" should be thrown together. The site's super strong on the bottom, but it gets weak at the top.

To run it another way, I think it boils down to a question of the Central Purpose. As a user (actually, long time user), for me it's about plugging in names unfamiliar to me and learning if they're jive or not - not figuring out if good guys are REALLY good or pretty really good or really really good in the humble opinion of Some Dude Running a Web Site (nothing personal, please don't be offended, I'm just honestly describing my user experience). In other words, it's a site that separates wheat from chaff (and lets me go deeper by reading "anti" materials). At the lower end, there's some objectivity, because you offer the weight of anti-materials....so your rating is less personal/arbitrary, and more supported by facts and preponderance of allegations.

If you agree that's the site's strength, then the change to make, IMHO, is the one suggested above. Focus the distinctions on the lower end, and put the upper guys in a big "no b.s." category (and continue to offer all the great supporting materials and links and cross-refs you do for those guys).

If you disagree, and that's NOT the central purpose of the site, fine. In that case, then make it a highly opinionated rotisserie guru league. Flesh out those higher categories much more, and put a lot more effort into making them smart and unconfusing. And don't slant the site so much on its "wheat from chaff" aspect, because then readers will carry that up the chain and think that anything but the top dog guy (i.e. rajneesh) are at least somewhat corrupt and screwed up - not your intention, I believe.

I'd personally hate it if you went with #2. I love the site for #1. But that's your call. Right now, you're doing a good job with #1 and a (sorry) lousy job with #2. And if it's site #2, my first (and probably last) feeling would be a wrench of mild disgust in my gut that this is 1. all an effort to gather Rajneesh partisans (and I'm unusual in that I deeply respect Rajneesh - most americans are leery 'cuz of the rolls royces - so I'm unusually disinclined to think poorly of you on that score) or that 2. the Dude Running The Website places himself on any even higher rung above all, hence his vast omniscient ability to distinguish and judge between guys you yourself describe as legitimately high level. I'd hate for myself or others to take away that feeling from the site. Presently, I more take away a "wow, what an incredible resource!" as my feeling, with a small taint of "what's all that screwy confusing stuff on the high end about?"

But, again, it's your site. However you choose is up to you, but I strongly feel that you need to choose. Either do a better, clearer, and more extensive job on the high end (and shrug your shoulders at people's reaction), or knock out all distinctions above "no bullshit", accepting that the site has turned out to focus and be used in a different way from your original aim (as is true of so many things).

[My correspondent added a further analysis of tendencies when i let him know i would add the discussion at Charexpo . . . ]

I think there are two basic tacks for building things like web sites: incremental (do stuff and then add clarification on top of it...and then clarify the clarifications) or decremental (keep integrating and trimming off the confusing part to eliminate the need to clarify). In other words, you can take the tack of the Vedas, with their vedic commentaries and meta-commentaries, or you can take a more sutra-esque tack of distillation.

Your site is so sprawlingly complex that I, an educated web-savvy long time user, don't really have a grasp on how it's laid out or what you're actually trying to do. I don't attempt to grasp it, and I don't try to read through all the materials, 'cuz I don't go to your site to do lots of reading in the site itself; I jump in for quick utilitarian reference look-ups, and then invest my reading time into the outbound links (and anti links). Or quick browses for different guru names.

I'm more the decremental type. I'd reorganize, pull together the myriad pages, sharpen it all, and either cut all distinctions above no-bullshit or really highlight the hierarchy. But that's not your approach, you're more vedic. So you're adding another leaf to the lotus, and probably a few users will notice and read it. I definitely wouldn't, FWIW.


1. hi Sarlo,

I quite enjoyed your guru rating website. A great service if one is looking for a living guru or wants to read some of the greats of other traditions. However, may I make a recommendation that you allow some intelligent modern spiritual thinkers (say Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, Robert Thurman, or Jack Kornfield for example) to critique your guru list and offer suggestions and commentary.

Obviously everyone wants their own guru to be rated top (As I see you have done with Osho, presumably your teacher) so some sort of independent advice from someone who has some attainment and is also involved in many traditions might be helpful. Just as it would be more accurate for a physicist to critique other physicists than a layman, it might be helpful to solicit the advice of spiritual teachers for your website. I'm sure their response won't be as caustic as some of the the feedback you have received. Just a thought to improve what seems to be a very good resource.

Also, you might want to re-word your ratings, they come across as quite derogatory. For example, most people would not characterize Chogyam Trungpa, Sri Aurobindo or Thich Nhat Hanh  as "very limited, narrow approach or ideology, or still developing". Further, to characterize Bodhidharma as having 'limited capacity' seems somewhat bizarre.

Another idea might be to simplify your ratings to: Enlightened, Probably Enligtened, Somewhat Realized, Unknown, and Bogus. 5 categories down from 11. This might be a more accurate way to categorize: more on the positive side, but the quacks are still labeled as quacks.

All the best.
Deryk W

Hi Deryk,

Lots of ideas here ;-)

Each and every one has merit but i don't feel to implement any. I'll try to outline why, starting at the last and working my way up . . .

Your simplified system of 5 categories of degrees of enlightenment would not work for me for two important reasons. One is this would be too subjective, even ephemeral, to evaluate -- not that the current system isn't subjective! --  and two, more important, is that what i have, while still subjective, is an attempt to evaluate something else, so it would be changing the whole thing. Someone else can do it.

My evaluations are a primitive attempt to evaluate the usefulness of these guys in the Quest, how likely are you to get some help from them in the spiritual search. I acknowledge the lack of a one-size-fits-all and i keep adjusting individual assessments but this is the basis, which has more "practical" value imo than the degrees-of-enlightenment spectrum.

Regarding both this and your observation about "very limited, narrow approach or ideology, or still developing" and "limited capacity," the following page explores these issues more fully: [Rating Characterizations Explained]. An excerpt from that page: [snipped]

About rating Osho as the top, it is indeed the case that he is my master, something i make clear on the home page at [Link].

About the independent feedback from current greats, i am open to feedback from everyone, and might well consider making pages out of serious feedback from any of those you mention, though i doubt that any of them are unbusy enough or even that interested. I expect that most of them have heard about my little project and given it a yawn ;-) Certainly anyone else is welcome to create their own ratings site and i will provide links.

[Deryk replies:]
Out of all the suggestions, I think re-wording the ratings would be the most helpful. As I said before, your wording of the rating is from the negative angle, rather than neutral or positive perspectives. This probably pisses people off (which is not a bad thing) when they see their guru as having 'limited capacity'.

Another Idea would be to cap the ratings at 4 stars: you only have 6 people in the top two anyway. Then a rating of 3 does not look so low. 

This is an interesting idea. I will mull it for a while.

And another idea I had would be to include other peoples ratings of the gurus and then take an average to arrive at the displayed rating. 

Well, i can't really do that because i would get all kinds of popularity-contest-skewed results: too much work to administer and too easily influenced by email-list excesses. Can you imagine a million votes for Sai Baba at a top rating? People faking other identities to vote more than once? It doesn't bear thinking about. I have already received quite a few "lobbying" emails to raise the rating of a certain teacher, all "individual" and sincere. No thanks.


*see Bricks1 and Bricks2, respectively general and pointed hits, 
if you just want to criticise.

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